What is this book? Well, I can tell you what it is not. It is not easy. It is not straightforward. And it is not something to rush through. Our hero Ichiro must deal with life, death, family, moving across the ocean from New York to Japan and will begin learning what is right and wrong. We see history (American, Japanese, even a bit of Chinese), mythology (I am assuming Japanese as while I know some, I am very lacking in my Asian cultures) and reality mixed to make a thoughtful and strong graphic novel for teens and adults.
Ichiro has a few bumps in it. And has some smooth sailing. There is fantasy, myth and coming of age. Ryan Inzana painted text and art to make something that is familiar and probably removed from most people’s experiences. Some of the areas touched on could be tied into today’s events, but also it is historical.
The two worlds are mixed in the illustrations, with different styles to show the differences being here/now, Earth and the Other World, reality, and legend. Sometimes it is easy to see everything, sometimes the details are crowded. That is the point, however. The journey should not be easy, and the text and art do not make it so. If I have one real complaint it is that the cover I have on my book shows Ichiro as older than the Ichiro in the book and makes him look a less Japanese-American and more fully of Japanese descent.
My favorite part of the entire book is showing the contradictions of Ichiro’s life, but then showing how he finds himself in the last place he thought possible: literally and figuratively.